Daily consumption and high-potency cannabis are associated with higher rates of psychosis

For years, several studies have linked cannabis use with a higher likelihood of suffering from psychotic disorders. However, although the association between both phenomena seems clear, there are not many studies that have been able to replicate previous results and have not been able to demonstrate causality. Now, a new study published in the magazine The Lancet Psychiatry It reinforces this association and points out that the daily consumption of cannabis, especially high potency, is closely related to the risk of developing this type of disorders.

The new study has been developed in 11 European cities and has found that people who used cannabis daily were three times more likely to suffer a psychotic disorder, compared to people who had never used this drug. In addition, in cities where the consumption of high-potency cannabis is higher, such as London or Amsterdam, the likelihood of suffering a disorder of this type among consumers is up to five times higher.

Globally, researchers estimate that one in five new cases (20.4%) of outbreaks may be related to daily cannabis use and approximately one in ten (12.2%) of the consumption of high-potency varieties. Based on these results, the researchers conclude that "if high-potency cannabis were no longer available, the incidence of psychosis would be expected to decrease from 37.9 to 18.8 per 100,000 people per year in Amsterdam and 45 , 7 to 31.9 per 100,000 people per year in London. "

According to the doses and the power

"This study has put on paper something that was already known for a long time and is that cannabis is a risk factor for the development of psychotic disorders and depends on the dose and power," he explains to eldiario.es Leyre Urigüen, researcher at the University of the Basque Country and the Center for Biomedical Research in the Mental Health Network (CIBERSAM).

However, Urigüen makes a significant qualification and that "cannabis can not be said to produce psychosis, but it is a risk factor in subjects who are vulnerable". This specialist insists that "we can not say that cannabis produces disorders in all those who consume daily or high power, since there must be some kind of genetic vulnerability or neurodevelopment for such a disorder to occur".

The opinion of this researcher is shared by Albert Batalla, a Catalan researcher who works at the University Medical Center of Utrecht (The Netherlands), who states that "the majority of people who use cannabis do not have a risk, but there is a subpopulation of people most vulnerable. " However, this researcher points out, "with the information we have, we can not predict who is going to generate a problem, with which everyone is exposed to a risk".

Batalla also draws attention to how "the perception of risk associated with cannabis is decreasing a lot internationally". According to this researcher, "most consumers will not have any problem, this is something that is clear, but if the number of consumers increases, the number of people suffering from these problems will also increase. "Furthermore, this specialist insists," we also know that for people who have a greater predisposition to develop a psychotic disorder, the use of cannabis causes the disease to appear before and this is important problem, because the earlier they start the worse is the prognosis ".

Increasingly stronger varieties

The researchers also call attention to the increase of the most potent varieties of the plant. Although a study published in the journal Addiction in 2017 it had established that the risk of psychosis due to cannabis use was relatively low, its author pointed out that, although small, the risk was greater the higher the consumption and raised concerns about the increase in high-potency cannabis strains, so he pointed out the need to collect more evidence on these new varieties.

Precisely this is what the authors of the new study have done, including Marta Di Forti, a researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London. "Our findings are consistent with previous studies that show that the use of cannabis with a high concentration of THC has more harmful effects on mental health than the use of weaker forms."

To establish the difference between the different types of cannabis, the researchers analyzed the levels of THC, which is the main psychoactive compound of the plant, and classified those with more than 10% of THC as high potency and the rest as low. power. With this classification, they observed that in Amsterdam the THC content reaches up to 67% in some varieties of frequent consumption, while in London, the most consumed variety has an average THC of 14%. In contrast, in countries such as Italy, France and Spain, cannabis types with a THC content of less than 10% are the most common.

The medicinal varieties

However, this does not mean that, as of today, safe varieties can be identified from the point of view of psychotic disorders. Batalla warns that, although "there are studies that indicate that there are certain types of cannabis whose consumption is not associated with the development of psychosis, such as those with greater amounts of CBD, more data is needed to know if there is any type of cannabis. cannabis that can be considered safe, something that, unfortunately, we still do not know ".

Precisely one of the limitations recognized by the authors of the new study is that they did not take into account the percentage of CBD or cannabidiol, one of the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoids in the plant, since they did not have data for all the cities studied. This compound is of special therapeutic interest and, among other things, is being studied for its antipsychotic effects. "It's what we call the ying and the yang of cannabis," Urigüen explains, "the TCH produces an effect and the CBD counteracts it."

In fact, although there are no specific studies on varieties with a lot of CBD, this researcher says "it is unlikely that the seeds that are now coming out for medicinal purposes and that practically only contain CBD, have an impact on the development of a psychotic outbreak. "


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